No matter how prepared you are for an exam, you may not be able to help being anxious – butterflies in your stomach, and the awful feeling of blanking out right before you enter the exam hall.
Feeling some anxiety is perfectly normal. In fact, exam anxiety is an epidemic among students worldwide.The body releases adrenaline in times of stress which triggers your fight or flight response, a necessary mechanism that helps us when faced with stressors or danger. Anxiety motivates you to accomplish your assignments, to study harder for a test and it can warn you when you’re in a dangerous situation. It informs you to be extra vigilant about your environment — to fight or flee.
But feeling overly anxious, causing the fight and flight response to remain active can be very draining physically and emotionally. Some students become completely debilitated with nausea and vomiting before an exam.
So how do you handle exam stress? Here are some scientific tips to help you beat that exam anxiety.
At least 6 hours of sleep
Feeling well-rested will give you the confidence to face the challenge at hand. In order to get this amount of sleep, plan your studying schedule well. Don’t succumb to the allure of pulling an all-nighter to “get more done”
Have a balanced diet
Studies have proven that students who have a balanced diet up to one week before an exam (though of course, it’s even better if you have a balanced diet consistently throughout the year) actually perform better than those who don’t.
On the day of the test, eat light. Too full and you might get drowsy. Your digestive system will be competing with your brain for oxygen-rich blood. Another tip is to take a walk to get that blood moving rapidly through your body.
Positive self-imagery has been proven to boost confidence and lower exam anxiety. However, be sure to set yourself realistic goals. It is not mentally healthy to expect full marks and distinctions on all of your exams. TL;DR, be confident but humble enough to set concrete, realistic expectations for yourself.
To further boost your confidence, try recalling questions to which you know you already know the answers to. It may help to create a mental list of short questions that you can reflect upon prior to entering the exam hall.
Recall happy moments
Much like summoning a Patronus in the face of a dementor, bring to mind an image of yourself in a happy moment and then quickly switch to imagining yourself in the exam room.
This helps your brain to associate happy feelings with writing the exam.
Avoid negative people
There may be that one Debbie Downer in your group, the person who lowers your self-confidence, or a Negative Nancy, the kid who complains, whines and brings down your mood regularly. Be sure to stay away from these people, especially right before an exam. You need all the positivity and support you can get, and these people will only drag you down with their bad attitudes, catastrophic thinking, and fatalistic outlooks.